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Copyright Guide for DVC Faculty

This research guide is intended to let faculty know the basics about copyright and fair use, and how it applies to their course materials.

Copying Books/Textbooks- Fair Use Analysis

The Fair Use Doctrine (17 US Code sec. 107) allows instructors to use copyrighted printed/textual materials in their classes without obtaining permission, provided that certain conditions are met. 

  1. Instructors must evaluate their use of print materials using the "Four Factors" test.
  2. Copying by instructors must meet the tests of brevity, spontaneity, and cumulative effect.

FAQs- Face-to-Face Teaching

Question: May I copy an entire book?

Answer: No. Only books in the public domain (published before 1923) may be copied in their entirety. Alternatively, you may place a copy of the book on Reserve in the library, which students may check out for three hours at a time.

Question: May I copy an excerpt of a book and distribute a copy to each student in my class?

Answer: Maybe. Fair Use allows instructors to copy and distribute an excerpt from any prose work of up to 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less.

SCENARIO: A professor wishes to use a textbook he considers to be too expensive. He makes copies of the book for the class.

FAIR USE? No. Although the use is educational, the professor is using the entire work, and by providing copies of the entire book to his students, he has affected the market. This conduct clearly interferes with the marketing monopoly of the copyright owner. The professor should place a copy on Reserve.

Question: Can I make multiple copies of a textbook and place them on Reserve in the library for the class?

Answer: No. This interferes with the marketing monopoly of the copyright owner and is not fair use. The professor may place the textbook on Reserve in the library.

Question: Can I make copies of a published workbook for my students?

Answer: No. Copyright law prohibits instructors from making copies of workbooks, texts, standardized tests, or other materials that were created for educational use.

SCENARIO: A teacher copies a Shakespearean play from a copyrighted anthology.

FAIR USE?  Yes. The play is in the public domain and not subject to copyright protection. However, if the anthology includes footnotes and other comments, the editor has added additional scholarship to the work and that may be copyrighted.

FAQs- Online Teaching

Question: Can I link to an ebook licensed by the library on my course page?

Answer: Yes, linking to an ebook licensed by the library from the library's catalog record or from one of the library's subscription databases (e.g. Gale Virtual Reference Library) is permitted.

Question: Can I post the full-text of a book or textbook on my course page?

Answer: No, this is not Fair Use and is not permitted.

Question: Can I post a PDF excerpt of a book to my course page?

Answer: Maybe, if the excerpt is 1,000 words or 10% of the work, whichever is less. Linking to the content is preferable.

Licensed by DVC Library

A library of over 100,00 books in digital format. Books cover a wide array of subjects: history, social sciences, computers and technology and many more. Adobe Acrobat reader required.

Gale Virtual Reference Library offers an online collection of reference eBooks, including encyclopedias and specialized reference sources.

A reference database which includes the complete Encyclopedia Britannica, the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, Britannica Student Encyclopedia and the Britannica Book of the Year.
Funk & Wagnalls New Work Encyclopedia provides over 25,000 encyclopedic entries. Searchable by subject or keywords.
Search all of the library's Salem Press reference titles from one search box.

Finding Public Domain Books